Needling my Way to Homemade Chicken Fried Steak

I really really love kitchen gadgets. This love has been professed previously with the purchase of the Olivator (AWESOME device & great cocktail conversation starter. Well, if the people at your cocktail party are foodies!)

So when the opportunity arised to purchase another gadget AND make one of my favorite comfort-food-snowy-lazy-Sunday meals we jumped at it.

Knives

And now our household is the proud owner of a Needler – that much needed device that claims to:

  • Achieve better cooking results from less expensive cuts of meat with the multi-blade hand-held meat tenderizer
  • Helps reduce cooking time by up to 40 percent; helps meats cook more evenly by reducing shrinkage
  • Razor sharp knife blades cut through connective tissues that make meat tough
  • Create tiny heat channels without changing shape or appearance of meat, resulting in faster penetration of marinades

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Fancy description for what we used it for – to turn a hunk of beef bottom round into chicken fried steak worthy cuts (instead of using the lesser cube steak cuts). The inspiration and directions for our first run at this Texas state dish came from our foodie hero – Alton Brown – and his Good Eats episode ‘Cubing A Round’

Steak1

Our first go wasn’t too bad (we also followed Alton’s recipe) But the next time we’ll make a few tweaks. Among the lessons learned:

  • Dredge the beef before you needle
  • Needle at least four times per side
  • Salt & pepper the beef (not just the dredge)
  • Make sure your oil is good and hot to help sear the dredge on

Oven

What is a chicken fried steak meal on a Sunday without hashbrowns, fried eggs, sausage gravy & biscuits? (No, you can not have my awesome 1960′s pink Frigidaire Custom Imperial Flaire oven/stove featured in this cooking in action shot :-) Even when I screw up a recipe I feel hip and sassy while doing so due to this awesome piece of 60′s kitchenery.)

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While I always knew Texans owned this dish – I had no idea about the immigrant component of it’s history. Here’s more on its Texas Hill Country origins per Alton...

“…this dish is based on Weiner schnitzel and was probably brought to the hills of central Texas by the thousands of Germans who immigrated there in the nineteenth century. Lacking veal, they adapted their recipe by tenderizing tougher cuts of meat. Even the white gravy traditionally served with the dish has roots in German cream sauce. Over time chuck wagon cooks started making it and it diverged into myriad varieties.”

Plate